Beach Walkway May Have New Look When Rebuilt

Just one month after a $10 million pedestrian walkway was completed, Katrina swept through South Mississippi, ripping parts of it to shreds.

The storm caused about $2.5 million worth of damage to the walkway.

Jan Phillips and her husband Floyd live across the street from the beach. When Katrina crashed ashore, it ripped up parts of the coast's boardwalk and also broke up the Phillips' daily exercise routine.

"Of course, this is my walking place everyday, with my two dogs. Yes, I believe they should replace it as soon as they can," Jan Phillips said.

Floyd Phillips says rebuilding the boardwalk would also help build up the coast's tourism industry.

"Like I said earlier, we saw tourists here during the summer. They enjoyed it. [It's] excellent for bicycle riding. We used to ride our bikes here. It's an absolute asset for Biloxi. People enjoy it. It's essential that they do rebuild it," Floyd Phillips said.

But some people say rebuilding the boardwalk would be a waste of money and a threat to nearby property should another catastrophic storm come crashing through.

"I understand people's concern that possibly a segment of the boardwalk might have broken loose and gotten pushed in with the surge. It's possible that it might have happened," said Harrison County Sand Beach Authority Director Bobby Weaver.

"We're mindful of people's concerns, and we want to address those issues."

That's why the Harrison County Sand Beach Authority is working with engineers to devise ways to improve the boardwalk's design.

"It might be of a different design. I don't know if we could mitigate and do a concrete structure. There's a lot of ideas out there," Weaver said.

Weaver says work on restoring the boardwalk could begin in the next two months, but it can't happen soon enough for people like Jan and Floyd Phillips--retirees who can't wait to see another South Mississippi sunset from the boardwalk they've come to love.

FEMA will provide funding for rebuilding the walkway.